Sunday, February 22, 2009

A Face For All Occasions

Two grueling days on set so far.

Our first day of shooting started at 7am South of Seattle. I was up at 5:30 and picked up our Production Designer just after six. She lives downtown and is generally on my way to every shoot. Plus, we both have loads of costumes and set dressing to lug about, so we're one of the few vehicles allowed at the downtown shoot days where parking is at a premium. My car is stuffed to the brim with helium balloons, clown wigs and shoes, boxes and boxes of file folders for our office scene shoot tonight, ironing board, metal chair, extras dressing, and costumes from other shoot days, which are always handy to have around as extra bits of patching fabric or set dressing. Yesterday we shot a scene in the lead clown's trailer, and bits of his costume and backup costumes I borrowed were stuffed into the cubby holes to help create the atmosphere. In a brilliantly inspired move, our production designer offered the day before's helium balloons for the sad clown long shot. So our poor dejected clown walked down an alley dragging a fistful of deflated balloons which bounced sadly behind him. Beautiful shot - can't wait to see it in post production.

Our first day was our largest extras day. All characters had to be ready for the first shot, which meant a lot of work for me, and lots of calls up from the production staff wondering how long it would take to begin shooting. Extras are lovely, but always have a lot of questions.

Yesterday, only a handful of extras were back for some closeup shots, and costumes were already set from the day before, only requiring touch ups and "last looks" before filming recommenced. I spent ages running around with my camera from the day before checking continuity - as we filmed yesterday the shots on either side of the first day's filming, and had to make sure every lock of the clown wig was flying askew in the right direction. His tailcoat wrinkes if you look at it wrong, and he was wired into a mic pack, so I couldn't take his jacket to iron between takes. Very upset about this as they did a closeup of his tails, but the director made it a character bit, and called it good. Now if only the wrinkles matched continuity I'd be happy. Probably won't show after all, but I went on the record with the behind the scenes camera that I'd wanted to change it but wasn't allowed.

Listening to the character actors talk shop to an adoring crowd of extras was amusing for a while. Hours later I was glad I got to be downstairs on set instead. Sharing stories is one of my favorite parts of the arts. "Talking Shop" makes me crazy. Can't stand the posturing of sentences beginning with "When I worked on so-and so...." The crew had a conversation about that during set up at our exterior shot. Unanimous decision that networking happens naturally through just working, so no need to go out of your way and be simultaniously obseqious and obnoxious.

Wrap last night at 3am. Call today at 2pm. Frantic shuffle to get our SAG actor out of costume before he went into a violation. Call time today latened as a result. Hurrah. Got home around 4 and up at 9:30. Very bright light in my apartment.

Today a minimal cast. Currently washing the costume, and will iron it on location. Most of my clown costume becomes set dressing today. Don't know if I will get to set that up, or our Production Designer.

I'm always happy working on a film set, and even more so with a crew that I've worked with previously. It's a nice chummy business, with loads of time to sit and chat with people. Our makeup designer is doing her first film -and has a fabulous air brush she just bought. I'm patently jealous, as I want a steamer in the worst way as my new job expense.

Off to eat breakfast and take costume out of dryer.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blood Wedding Review

*My costumes got my first good Seattle Review!!!*

OCT has dusted off a seldom-produced play by one of my favorite poets, Federico Garcia Lorca (who I didn’t even know was a playwright), about a seemingly grand Spanish wedding gone to the coyotes when the bride has second thoughts. Though relocated from Spain to the more familiar American Southwest, this play is miles from ordinary. In mystic Lorcan fashion, players of the sky argue with Death (Alice Bridgforth) over the fate of the star-crossed lovers. Exquisite costumes and unexpectedly brassy musical interludes (kudos to Gina Russell for her Broadway-worthy vibrato as the bespangled Moon) overlay the serpentine plot of a biddable mama’s boy (Shayne McNeal) who has just purchased the vineyard, and thus the bride (Annie Jantzen), of his dreams. Catherine Kettrick’s poignant role as his widowed mother invokes the feminist social commentary that helped get Lorca assassinated in Franco’s Spain. Director Ron Sandahl took a palpable risk in leaving the Wife’s role (also Russell) entirely in Spanish, but explanatory English responses plugged the info gap, and the lyrical exchanges of English con Espanol wove the otherworldly beauty of Lorca’s prose mejor que a literal translation would have. Este obra de teatro es tan bella y tan triste. JENNA NAND 7:30 p.m. Fri.-Sat., 4 p.m. Sun. Ends Feb. 28. SEATTLE WEEKLY
Ah monologue coaching!

I went to the TPS studios today to coach my monologue for the generals. I'd been feeling uncomfortable with mine, even though I liked my choice, it wasn't working properly in auditions. With monologues, as with all acting, you really need direction. So we worked my 1 minue and 30 second piece for an hour, and in the end I feel much more ready for my audition on Thursday.

I had a semi-free day. Nannying was easy. We finished Anne of Green Gables yesterday, so today we watched the first part of the movie.

Tonight I'll likely go to a preview of Jane Eyre, and this weekend will be working and costuming.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clown Costumes

I had to make three clown costumes for today's stills shoot to be used in filming which begins a week from Friday. Today was my big push, because the main character's costume needed to be finished - or fairly finished - so he looked the same from past to present. I finished the tux vest just in time to walk out the door, run by Display and Costume, and get to the shoot. Luckily everything fit. Except the tailcoat which I knew wouldn't fit, but needed it to be tried on to determine if there was NOOOO possible way (in which case I needed to return it, and the second jacket I bought just in case), or if it could be altered to work for the film -which it could.

Part of the stress of my job is most of filmmaking is too technical for the average person to have an opinion about, with all the funny acronyms and nicknames - abbreviations flying about. I know now what is meant when someone says, "call the 1st A.D. and tell him to meet me at Craft Services," but I haven't always. Costuming seems to be the one arena that everyone feels they know something about/get to have an opinion on/should offer suggestions regarding.

This is emphatically not the case. I'm usually pretty on top of what needs to be done, and if it isn't yet, either it is not currently a priority, or there is a very good reason why it hasn't been done (ie - don't take the tags off until we're sure that we're going to use the outfit, otherwise I'll return it and get the 15% of my budget that I spent on it back.) Or that's actually the way I wanted it.

Today, having been in the costume for five minutes on the first fitting, the actor and another crew member were to be found in the hallway saying, "You know what should be done to make this look like a CLOWN costume" ...which really ticked me off.

So tonight I get to bring up the etiquette portion of filmmaking, and reminding the crew at our meeting that if they discuss it, it gives the actors permission to start taking matters into their own hands, and makes my life harder in the bargain.

On the plus side, the costumes (other than the bits and pieces that weren't done on purpose) met with the approval of the director, so all's well. Now for the finishing touches and alterations, and my major costume is ready to roll.

Friday, February 06, 2009

I have almost literally been sleeping around the clock since 1 o'clock on Wednesday. This miserable cold with achies I've been fighting off long enough to do eight performances of Goldilocks finally hit with a vengance. I'm happily off cough and cold meds and letting it run its course. (I hate doping up for illnesses. If this one was any indication, taking all the medicine in the world for four days didn't make it any better, it just held off symptoms for a few hours at a time until I could crash)

Goldilocks went really well! I played Mamma Bear all weekend, and then did my two performances as Goldie on Wednesday. I finally feel like I've got the hang of acting for this company. For Cinderella I only went on once, and everything was a blur. For Pinocchio, my character had very little interaction outside the fourth wall, so it was very fun, but felt odd. Both Mamma and Goldie carry on lengthy conversational monologues and songs, and it finally felt right. Here's a picture from backstage.
My costume had a big skirt and pinafore, and I amused myself backstage by twirling. My favorite qualifier for a dress as a child - did it have a twirly skirt. It was fun to regress for a few minutes.

Now I start costuming a film. I'm supposed to have three clown costumes finished for a preliminary photo shoot on Wednesday. Whether I get out today will depend on how I feel later, and if the rain stops. Not likely in Seattle - but I'm not feeling an intense desire to go out and get wet.

Auditions season is starting in town. My first single audition is Sunday, and mass audition is in the 16-18th. I decided to sing after all, even though my original plan was just to do monologues. I was too busy this past month to work up a second monologue. I hate learning monologues. They are so artificial, and almost impossible for me to pick out of context. I always watch in amazement as someone delivers a lovely comedic one on the spot - I struggle and struggle, and never do well. I worked with a friend on my new monologue and it wound up nicely after an hour, but in my audition the first go around was stiff - and once she "put me onstage" gave me an imaginary actor to play off, and some stage direction, it was lovely. They seem to frown on doing too many monologues from shows you've been in, but my best monologue at that audition was my little scene from Pinocchio, because I've done it so often. Silly monologues - maybe I should take a class someday.


Well, I think I'll go make myself something hot to drink, and retire to the couch to read more Lewis. I finished the Abolition of Man yesterday, and I'm on to the Problem of Pain. Seriously.